Back in her own camping spot in the caves, just up the tracks from Carolin’s, Tessa was reading a biography of 19th Century German composer Robert Schumann before turning in, and had reached the part where the author was discussing his first major work called “Papillons”, which means butterflies. Tessa recalls the dream again with the snow-as-butterflies, her *last* at Green Yarn, pheh. Kicked out! Just because Jeffrie Phillips slept too long in the 1898 room with his safe, comforting tv static. “This is not a homeless shelter!” she could hear the owner or owners of the sim say upon seeing him in bed. “Banned! And the girl with you.” Another biographer I am, she thinks here. The story of the Blue Rose Thorn.
Oh well, Tessa considers. It’s not too awfully bad in the caves if you have some good books to read to pass the time. And good friends — like Carolin. Too bad about Mabel. Tessa tries not to think back to that awful day in early May when… but she couldn’t help herself. Let them eat cake: she’ll never forget. Mabel saw the passageway and she didn’t. Then: gone. Darn heartless dummies!
Tessa wakes up at 2:01 am with an epiphany. “Q”, she whispers, open Schumann book still in hand. “Curly Q. The island down the tracks!” She couldn’t wait to tell Carolin; morning was too late.
Groggy Carolin didn’t think much of the idea at first but when checking Santa’s list on the blackboard the next day came to understand the significance of it all. We’re going back to New York, she thinks while packing her knapsack for the journey. I’m going… home.
“Carolin?” She turns. “Carolin!!??”
“We’ll have to stay in the caves tonight, Tessa. They’re having some kind of party over on Crow Island in the treehouse.”
“But… I need a new home! I’ve been kicked out of Heaven!”
“That wasn’t heaven, that Green Yarn. Change the name, change the attitude. They don’t deserve you.”
“I’m *not* staying in these caves again. Cold!” Tessa shivers here exagerratedly in her sleeveless shirt.
“It’s not forever.” Carolin stares down the tracks, wishing she saw a ballerina figure instead of a heartless dummy.
Then she was gone.
“Hi Tessa!” Carolin called from above while waving. “Ready to go back in the cave?”
Was she ready? Then she remembered the blackboard, the missing center of the equation. Q. Someone named Q.
She recites what she knows in her head. She is on Crow Island at End of Time. Crow Mountain is above her, the Climax. Meditating Freddie — yes. Bakersworks. They are in a Baker B. work. But… someone is missing. Man – About – T…
“Time,” Carolin finished for her later at the blackboard, writing out three identical numbers in a row, the number of the beast from The Bible. “Now… if we extend this infinitely, what do we have? We have a *7*. So we might as well say it with a 7 instead of a 6 for that third. 667,” she finalized, and wrote it on the board. “Who is…”
“Sepisexton,” Tessa answers, getting smarter all the time, and she was pretty sharp from the beginning. She recalled the capital of Olive, the one before Tin separated and became its own principality, the 7 from the 6. Boy we are really ranging far and wide in time now. But I sometimes write that as far and yd. The man comes out from behind the curtain (4th wall). He is a Woo Woo. He believes in ghosts, cracker jacks, and cereal circles with a prize inside. Q.
“Q.” Carolin points. Red Point. Buick. Boss who is green like Bixby. Canada. They are traveling across the frozen Heartland, trying to reach…”
And that’s the one thing she couldn’t remember that Man of Time did. We are done now.
Carolin saw her approaching the hill from the road. “Up here Tessa!” she called from the designated meeting spot, sacred in the long game. Cow Hill. The Man About Time finally made it. And Tessa’s old cave friend Carolin, whose circumstances we haven’t really delved into yet, with only one post devoted to her so far. Here’s where that changes: novel 24. (Wheeler thinks) we need a new (important) female character, and Carolin is a good fit, helping to fill out the overall macro-picture a little bit more. One novel at a time. One post, one section, one novel. When will it end? What is at the end of *that* particular road? Another too deep mystery with ban lines all around? Let’s see what Carolin adds to the now very big equation, with a large blackboard needed to contain.
Ahh: appropriate. A big blackboard.
And I guess that leaves Man About Time out of the picture currently since his seat has been taken. He missed again! On with the show…
She thought the new thing on the tracks looked like a ballerina but knew it wasn’t. This one was without heart.
“Oh hey guys. Already time for another fairy watch?”
“Don’t touch it, don’t touch it,” they implored.
“Oh I know.”
They didn’t know what to do with him after he just appeared out of nowhere in the heart of Collagesity. Right in the ballerina. He seemed to like popcorn, but kept feeding the little heads attached to his body instead of his own head. He claimed to be from a place called The Great Fracture. On one side: him (he explained). On the other: Nevermind or Nevermore, names which he exchanged freely. Then to the right a person called Hidi or Heidi or Hayden (something) — again when we asked to clarify the spelling it never came. The “direction left” he couldn’t talk about yet. That would remain a “stalwart mystery” as he put it in his tinny, warbling voice.
“I can’t get these dal garn chips open, Bauer. I’m just going to have to bites through the bag.”